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Wed, Nov 23, 2005

This Just In! Pigs Fly... China Southern Airlines

Canadian Breeding Swine Fly In Style To New Home

By ANN Associate Editor Rob Finfrock

China Southern Airlines -- which touts its aircraft as "the largest and most technically advanced fleet in The People's Republic of China" -- recently put that fleet to good use, by flying a load of special "passengers" from its cargo hub at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to Shenzhen, China.

The passengers onboard the specially-equipped 747-400 weren't celebrities, rock stars, or influential and knowledgeable government figures. Heck, they weren't even relatives (living or deceased) of Richard E. Daley, nor did they have any ties to ANN's own Kevin "Hognose" O'Brien.

They were pigs... real pigs, Canadian breeding pigs heading to their new home at a livestock company in Henan Province. This was the second such flight of pigs this year, according to a China Southern press release, as the Chinese work to build that country's pork-production capacity.

In all, 470 flying pigs -- alliteratively called "prized purebred porkers" in the release -- were onboard the China Southern cargo flight... and they had to go through boarding and unloading procedures we pray the TSA never catch wind of, lest they get any ideas:

  • First step: An O'Hare International Airport fire engine was guided into position so it could spray disinfectant over the vehicles holding the pigs, and the parking bay for the China Southern freighter.
  • Second step: Upon arrival in The Middle Kingdom after a 14-hour trip (including a refueling stop in Anchorage, AK) Chinese airport workers in Shenzhen used fire hoses to shower disinfectant on the entire freighter. We understand they used the "New Plane" scent.
  • Third Step: China Southern Airlines cargo workers -- wearing headgear, surgical masks and gloves -- carefully unloaded the ponderous pallets of precious porkers (E-I-C Note: Stop that!) from the aircraft. Then, quarantine clerks began the final stage of disinfection as they again sprayed antiseptic around the wooden cages ... while animal physicians checked the quantity, type and health condition of pigs in each cage.

Quarantine officials also inspected all necessary documents, to insure there were no illegal alien pigs onboard.

Throughout the 14-hour journey from America to China, airline crew maintained a moderate temperature in the baggage compartment of 61 degrees Fahrenheit and provided fresh, clean air for the baggage compartment using the aircraft's modern (we really, really hope so) air conditioning system.

Each of the 470 pigs also enjoyed three more inflight meals en route than you're likely to get on United.

After a 45-day stay in quarantine, the pigs will be sent off to their new home... which, thankfully, the press release didn't get into too much detail about.



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